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4 Things I Pray You Will Be {a 13 year old’s blessing}

We do this thing here when a child turns 13–the rite of passage into a new phase of maturity–where those who love and who have invested thus far write letters to champion the new teen into this next phase of life.

Last year for Parker’s 13th we had many write letters which were presented in an album to him at a special round table filled with men mentors who have been there for him through the years. This week my best friend’s son turned 13–and today he will receive the many letters others wrote to him including ours.

These are 4 things I pray for him in the next phase of life. May we raise kids who will BE THAT FRIEND to another…

Dear one your 13th Birthday…

First may I take a minute to boast that I’ve known about you just about as long as anyone. Bring your mom’s best friend for so many years—I have gotten the inside scoop on your life since the beginning. Which mind you—has also given me the privilege to fiercely love and pray over you since the beginning. I met you for the first time in Northside Hospital 13 years ago—and from that day since I haven’t missed a birthday and I’ve been on the receiving end of the best stories as your mom has proudly shared them. I consider myself blessed to know you your whole life, and I’m proud of the man of God you are. 

As I pray about what to bless over you on this special birthday that christens you into the teenage manhood years—I want to challenge you with the word FRIENDSHIP. 

I feel like challenging with this word is most fitting because it is the friendship with your mom through decades that brings us here today. I want to challenge you what to look for in a friend—BUT MOST OF ALL WHAT TO BE IN A FRIEND.

There are 4 things I pray you can BE and have one friend (just one Godly, God-fearing, God-finding and man after God’s own heart you need in your life—so never be deceived that popularity with friends and favor with God is the same. Seek to please Him alone dear one.) I am praying you can BECOME AND BE these 4 things to a faithful friend that will stand the same test of time your mom has to me…

1. May you be the steadfast friend. Steadfast can be described as “stick-with-it-ness” and loyal. In your teenage and adult years, may you be the man others find loyal. May others know because of your character where to find you—the first man to stand up when something is right and the last man standing when there is still need. May you be the friend that shows up and can be counted on. May you be the word keeper—the one who keeps his promises even when it’s hard.

2. May you be the kind friend. Kindness is easy when others are kind first or in return. But—may you also be the man who is kind in the face of unkindness. May you be slow to speak, slow to talk (react), and slow to become angry. May your words be seasoned with salt—fresh air and hope to a hurting world. May you be the lifter of hearts pointing to Jesus—and May you listen and hear and speak words of truth as the Holy Spirit places them on your heart. You have always been the kind one—don’t stop. In your steadfastness—keep being the kind one.

3. May you be the wise friend. I pray when you are uncertain which way to go, you are humble enough to wait and seek godly counsel. With your wisdom—stay humble as others see your wisdom. Recognize pride quickly and confess it just as quickly. Take a minute in every moment to ask your Savior is this the way you want me to go—in everything. He is faithful and will always show you. Be brave when everyone goes one way, and God shows you a more narrow path. The wisest decisions will be the “yes” moments where He asks you to trust Him in a different way than everyone else. Remember you will not be alone because He will go before you, with you and behind you.

4. May you be the fun friend. I know this one has you either smiling or surprised to end on this one as the others were quite serious. But never be too serious to lose site of the glorious adventure of the life God has given you. Don’t ever let the world tell you the fun friend is the friend who does the wrong thing, gets in trouble or displeases God. No. Your mom and I have had a lot of fun in life while being steadfast, kind and wise. Following Jesus can be radical, indescribable and silly FUN. So look for the adventure and hold up your hands for an unbelievable ride as you follow Him. Be the friend who says yes to good, clean fun even when you are an old man. Take the trip. Stay up late to see the miracle (like those sand turtles!) and celebrate the touchdown in life. 

You, dear one, have been such a good friend to my son. There are many things I see in you both as you both are true to conviction. I am so proud of the man you are becoming—and through your teenage years I will continue to pray for you. It is my prayer that you will have a friend who stands the test of time like I have in your mother. Be that kind of friend to someone else—and pray for the ones who are not. Never fret or worry when there are unkind friends each year because the world has many of those people—just stand true and tall in your steadfastness, kindness, wisdom and joyful fun with your eyes always up to the One who loves you most. Our family is here for you all your days—and if you ever need anything we are always here. We love you and wish you the best birthday as you begin a new stage of life! 

Love,

Mrs. Andrea

(Mr. Richard, Parker, Laney, Frank, Isaac, Zeke and Janie Claire)

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Shipping the white out and inviting color in

I jumped on the bandwagon 5 years ago when we moved to the farm and went with neutrals, tons of white and a little bit more–WHITE. The only problem is…y’all this is so not me.

It may have felt crisp and clean–but I loved all the white furniture to the basement and decided blue velvet and a crazy yellow chair could replace it. I found fabulous Monet-like BRIGHT fabric and I grabbed a canvas to paint to tie all the color in. During nap time instead of snoozing–I pulled out my serger and sewing machines…and whipped these out for lots of pops of color that just sing happy all day long.

This acrylic on canvas I painted in the Spring is named “It Is Well”. The storms may come–but my Keeper provides so it is well with my soul. I love seeing these flowers and new life by this painting.

Find this fabric here…

Swavelle Mill Creek Glenburn Peony

I love having design that uplifts your heart. I couldn’t help but pull out my letterboard today to remind myself to always be expectant and ready for the good that is ahead…

Good things are coming. Be ready. So now you know why I keep a tambourine in my van. I actually keep it in the pocket of my door so when I come it I hear it ding😂. It’s like a reminder with each stop and errand that good things are coming!

Have a sweet week…filled with lots of color, joy and expectations for what’s ahead!

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A New School Year! Goal Setting as a family…

I’ve been brainstorming all the ways I can get organized as we get ourselves back in gear for another school year–and it dawned on me that I haven’t really been the best at helping my kids set goals. I encourage them to do well in school, try their best and be kind to everyone–but the older I get the more I realize kids really need us to come come along side them and GUIDE them in HOW to do all the things we too often gloss over with sweet words of quick encouragement.

One way I want to do that this year and in the years ahead is to be very intentional with the kids with helping them set and achieve their goals. I was blown away as I did research on different goal setting methods to learn that only 3% of American write down their goals YET a Harvard study revealed that you are 50% MORE likely to achieve your goal when you write them down. The study also showed you have greater odds of meeting goals when you share them with a close friend or family member. I was all like–HELLO?! Why in the WORLD have I not been doing this INDIVIDUALLY with my children?!

I scoured the internet for something SIMPLE–because simple is actually a big part of meeting goals in the SMART method (Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic, Time-based). I needed something simple that my littles and my bigs could both do (keeping it simple for momma too so I actually do this over and over again:). Each child will have their goals on a clip board and to keep them time-based each period is just 3 months long. We can re-evaluate and tweak where goals weren’t met and challenge in new ways where they were at the end of each period. If you set goals too far out you just forget about them–hence my New Year’s resolutions NEVER happening!

If this old mom can figure out how to attach all of these–I’m leaving these here for YOU to print off for FREE!! Just print put your child’s name on it and you are SET!

First I created a cover sheet where I can write each of my children’s names–and I made one for “mom” and “dad” too. I think it will be fun for us to do with them–and it will be good for us to set goals WITH them. I included on the cover page what the SMART goal setting method stands for so parents can walk through that at the beginning of their goal setting time…

We are going to focus on 6 different areas of our lives to set goals in–and to keep it really simple instead of created a page for each area–I put 3 areas of each page. Then I created an idea page to get us started when we need help thinking of “actions” to put in place to help us reach our goals.

I wrote the months at the top to REMIND them these goals are just for the next 3 months! They *CAN* do this!!! Also this reminds them to think of things they can do RIGHT now because they only have 3 months to think about.

I’m really excited about this 2nd page setting family goals together–and even helping my kids process and think about what emotional/behavioral goals are. We need to BRAINSTORM the HOW part of achieving this goal. I have some who get frustrated with siblings–so we can think about ways to respond but HOW we will keep our cool and respond with kindness and love. This could be for tempers for teens and also used for things like getting rid of binky for a toddler;). However–we are NOT ready to say goodbye to baby’s binky YET!

I created this page for each child to keep as they brainstorm steps of action points as they work on this each time…

I found a few other great resources I’ll come back and add too later. I think one of my kids would benefit from a daily check off for his things and another I found a cool “read through the Bible” plan that is perfect for teen in their spiritual goals if they need accountability or motivation in being in the Word daily. I’ll grab those and link them here later also!

Alright–now friends this old momma who has been away from blogging for a bit is going to try my best to attach these for you below to print off and use!!! May you each have a sweet year ahead–and I hope this blesses those of you who join me in goal setting with your sweet families!!

Blessings!

Andrea

FREE FAMILY GOAL SETTING PRINTABLE: GOALSETTING

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Knocking Down Sand Castles

Last night–we had a teachable moment. It was one where I felt the Lord got my attention, and He was speaking trying to tell me something in a way that only He can.

In the midst of parenting 6 children stages toddler to teen, there are so many different decisions from cutting up grapes to which sports club is the best environment. There’s also different disappointments in juggling so much ranging from skinned knees to advocating through learning challenges. We have the gamut of all things.

Vacation.

Well, we needed one. We could use ten but one will do.

Last night while daddy watched the big boys jump waves, my oldest daughter joined me taking our two youngest on a sunset beach walk. It wasn’t long into our walk when we came across a couple of families and a lot of kids finishing a pretty amazing sand castle creation. In my big girl’s words–it was MAJESTIC!

The kids put on their finishing touches.

The parents grabbed their iPhones and snapped a million pictures.

We passed by smiling at the scene as group pictures with their sand creation continued. My daughter had to jump in and grab a picture too.

We continued our walk and as I pushed the toddler in a stroller my oldest entertained her jumping in the sand and twirling on the beach. Can we all say, “Almost bed time?!” As my oldest jumped in a big hole no doubt made earlier in the day to bury a beach goer, two older ladies carrying rakes approached us.

“Sweetheart–you didn’t dig or leave that big hole did you?”

“No ma’am.”

“Well–do you know why you should never leave ditches or holes like this in the sand…or really even dig holes this big at all?”

My girl looked unsure so I jumped in to take a guess…

“I think I read something about holes collapsing on people?”

The older lady went on to share with us about the sea turtles and how they get trapped in the holes and ditches. She shared this is the time of year they come on the beaches at high tide in the middle of the night and lay their eggs. Often they get stuck in the holes, lay their eggs and then their eggs get damaged as they struggle to get out.

Another lady wearing a blue vest with a turtle on it came up with a rake and they worked together to fill the hole. Instead of leaving them, I saw this as a teachable moment and asked my kids if they wanted to help. It was really a sweet time talking about the island, what brought them there and how they got involved with volunteering their time every night to assist the beach patrol making their job easier in caring for His creation–the sea turtles.

They asked us if we had seen any castles or holes, and we couldn’t help but laugh shaking the scene we had just passed. There was NO WAY these two women could smooth out the sand behind the majestic castle scene we had passed earlier. I told them they might want to wait because they were rather proud of their creation.

We helped them for awhile filled smaller holes. Then we walked down and saw the coast was clear (no pun intended;)–and just behind the castle creation the ladies showed us not one but THREE roped off squares just feet behind the castle where mother turtles had laid their eggs and they had nights earlier put in these safety stakes to protect the eggs. They shared this was coincidentally one of the most popular places for the turtles to lay their eggs.

There was no way these two ladies could flatten this out without us. In fact, there was no way they could even do it WITH us before dark. Just as I had that thought, three teenagers walked up to take pictures. We asked them if they wanted to join us in helping these ladies save the turtles that might come on the beach tonight and they jumped right in. It was a sweet moment of community–people working together for a common good. We got the toddler out of the stroller and she even jumped in to help!

One of the ladies looked at me and said, “I had an aunt that always said–It’s some times the unplanned for moments where the best memories are made. Tonight–you just created an unforgettable memory WITH and FOR your children!”

We both stood there for a moment taking it in. God was speaking. Something beautiful was happening. Strangers. Together. Laughing. In a hurry before it was completely dark. It was something special.

Just as we were ready for the rakes–I looked up to see a mom and her son RUNNING toward us from one of the homes behind us. They must know about the sea turtles! Just in time to help us!

But it wasn’t. We didn’t have time to ask before she started. Defensive. Upset. Even hurt.

“What are y’all doing? Do you know how long this took!? Do you know how HARD my son here and his friends worked to make this happen?!”

Compassion. Those sweet turtle volunteers once had 10 year old children too. They had grandkids. But I had also heard their stories of loss and even the ones they saved. They saw the bigger picture, and I decided being a mom myself I’d jump in and invite them to JOIN US after we explained.

I shared what we had just learned. I told them how beautiful their creation indeed was. I told them how the girls jumped in to help us. Did they want to join in before it’s too dark?!

No.

No.

No.

“I heard about you. As we built they said to beware of the turtle ladies. My son did this. He worked so hard. I guess we will just have to wake up earlier–and build ANOTHER…bigger and better one with deeper trenches and bigger castles. Yes son–that is what we can do!”

I stood there looking at that mom–and something in her…I saw ME.

The momma bear.

Wanting to be behind my kids.

Wanting to defend them always.

Jumping before I really listen.

Forgetting to step back.

Missing the bigger picture.

Missing an opportunity to be a part of something bigger…

Or even worse–something BETTER.

Then the lady with the turtle vest–so kindly smiled. She understood, but we all could see what she too saw.

She told her to do what she felt she had to do–and she would do the same. Being dark at this point we needed to get back so I kindly interrupted and apologized to the mom upset about the sand castle and thanked the sea turtle volunteer for everything she does and letting us be a part of it tonight. The other girls went on their way–and I watched as the mom and her son walked toward their home. I listened as my big girl talked about all she learned–her shoulders back…so proud.

She looked a little bit different to me. Passionate. More joyful. Every time we join Him in something bigger–no matter how small to the world–we are indeed changed. We GOT to be a part of something bigger.

The moment of sweet community stood still in mind, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better it could have been had that mom made a different decision as she ran down.

What would it have been like had she stepped back to LISTEN?

What would it have been like had she jumped in to help?

What did her son see instead?

What would he have seen had she chosen differently?

And I thought about this…

A new school year is just around the corner.

My job as their mom is to look for their gifts and champion them. I want to get behind them, support them and help them as much as I can.

But.

There will be moments this year where it feels like someone or something is tearing down their sand castles. Instead of getting defensive and insisting we keep trying–start over–never give up, I want to learn to LISTEN. I want to be still in moments of disappointment and try to see the BIGGER picture. I want to look to see what God might be doing and invite my child to join me…to join HIM…to join others…in it–TOGETHER.

I don’t want to miss a miracle because I’m too busy building something that was never supposed to be. I want to trust that He loves me so much to send others to redirect and to be sensitive enough to REALLY see.

Praying for the year ahead and all it will bring. Give us eyes to see and courage to follow in Your footsteps Jesus as you lead in big and some times unexpected ways.

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Wiphan – Parker’s first trip❤️

While their trip didn’t start off easy (we didn’t double check P’s expiration passport date!), the Lord worked out a miracle and they were on the plane to go in no time! (Thankful we live near a national passport office!)

Finally Zambia bound!

It really is crazy to think we started volunteering with Wiphan when this soon-to-be 14 year old was just 2 years old! But finally he got to go over himself and see what he has been a part of almost his entire life from this side of the world. A night in South Africa after a 15 hour flight then another 3 hour leg to Zambia! Finally…he saw our heart…

Parker with Wiphan’s Pastor Aaron

Parker and the Zambia founder’s daughter who now works for Wiphan – We Love Abby!

Listening to his joy as he arrived home today melted my momma heart. He was so precious asking for things he could do around the farm to earn monthly so he could return next summer and love the people at Wiphan.

This. To have your children embrace the ministry your family has poured into for so long feels like heaven to me. So many treasured stories. He and his siblings have been writing to Beatrice our sponsored daughter for almost 9 years. Finally they also got to meet on this trip…

Parker finally meets our sponsored daughter Beatrice

Parker is bothered here while Beatrice thinks it’s hilarious. Richard informed every male in the compound to stay 5 feet from his Beatrice or he would brea their face😂😂😂😂 Ministry is Love. But don’t mess with daddy’s girl![/ca[/ca[/ca[/ca

This was a flood of memories for me to just 3 years ago when Laney met her for the first time. She’s changed so much from these pictures with Laney…

Loo bear meeting Beatrice
Loo, Beatrice and B’s school friend…COMPLETE JOY!

A day I will NEVER forget. If you ever have a way to go meet your sponsored child…DO IT!

Then he found our Harmony–and he couldn’t wait to begin sponsoring him also…because always room to love more. Isn’t he a doll…

The moment P found our Harmony ❤️[[
Harmony and P at Wiphan’s Westbourne School

They got updates for many of our sponsors–and advocated for many waiting on families to sponsor them. God was so good bringing several families to make big decisions to add Wiphan children to their families fold through sponsorship. We rejoice!

They spent their last few days at Victoria Falls and on a Zimbabwe safari. They also bunjee jumped off the Falls😳 No pics to prove it because they locked their things up to jump😂🙌🏻 Richard said he will NEVER do that again, and he is just thankful to be alive!

7th Natural Wonder of the World – Victoria Falls

Zambezi River

Richard said I’m due to go…it’s just SO HARD for me to leave my babies. But. Maybe next summer I’ll go! It’s Frank and Isaac’s turn–and Isaac also wants to go to Ethiopia so we definitely have some planning and lots of praying to do in God’s best timing for that trip!

The boys are now safely home battling jet lag–they crashed at 8pm long enough for me to jot down their journey because someone in this house needed to while it was still fresh! Putting down the others and off to join them in dreamland dreaming of seeing our Wiphan friends again❤️ Until next time!!!

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